10 Steps to Social Media Success for Your Business

By: Susan MacCargar, Creative Director

January 15, 2024

Social media marketing has become a crucial resource for businesses owners who want to connect with customers and prospects, entertain and engage them, and solve their problems. By 2023 studies had indicated that more than 70% of small-to-mid-sized businesses used social media.

No doubt about it — your competitors are already on social media. If your company isn’t there yet, it’s time to get with the program. We’ve put together 10 steps to get you started on the road to social media success.

STEP 1: Understand Your Target Audience

Your customers and followers are real people with wants and needs. You need to get to know them before you try to engage them. Who is your ideal customer?

  • What age and race are they?
  • Where are they located?
  • What’s their relationship status?
  • What socio-economic status/employment and average income do they have?
  • What are their values?
  • What are their interests and hobbies?
  • What are their pain points?
  • Which social media platforms do they frequent?

To do a deeper dive on defining your audience, check out this article from Hootsuite about creating buyer personas. Buyer personas go far beyond just determining members of your target audience’s demographic info. They involve describing traits such as what your ideal customers look like, what kind of cars they drive, how many children they have, etc. You may find you have multiple markets/audiences, but across all of them, one thing is always true. You have to target the person doing the purchasing.

STEP 2: Drill Down into Your Social Media Goals

What specific result do you want from each of your social media marketing efforts? It may be a small, short-term objective such as a single ad buy on Facebook or another channel. Or it could have a broader objective like a goal for your overall social media campaign.

There’s a tried-and-true framework to guide this part of your social media strategy, known by the acronym SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Use these parameters when setting your company’s social media goals:

Specific: Make your goal precise. “Improve our Instagram account” is too vague. Instead aim to “build Instagram engagement by X%.”

Measurable: Don’t vow to “increase brand awareness.” Make the goal something you can track, such as “achieve a 5% increase in our total number of social media followers.”

Attainable: Refuse to set wishful goals. Maybe you want to drive more traffic to your website by increasing the number of referrals from social media sites. You need a realistic number to shoot for, such as knowing that when you posted content more frequently last month, your followers increased by 2%.

Relevant: How about setting this goal? “Create more engagement by increasing our total number of followers on Facebook.” This goal is relevant because it increases brand awareness and increases interest in your products and services, a major impact on your big-picture brand strategy.

Time-bound: Nothing happens without a deadline. Set a time to reach each goal, say one to six months, depending on its complexity and your past experience.

STEP 3: Know Who You’re Up Against

A competitive analysis gives you a snapshot of what your competition is doing well, and what’s expected in your industry. Such analysis is crucial to setting your own social media targets and finding holes or opportunities. Is one of your competitors all over Facebook, but nowhere else? Your opportunity could be YouTube or Instagram, two platforms where your audience is not already being saturated with content.

A great way to gain insights is to search for competing company names, account handles, and other relevant keywords on social media. Look at what they are sharing and what are other people are saying about them. Also evaluate whether their use of influencer marketing is getting their brand a lot of engagement.

Other things that should be on your radar: (1) shifts in how competitors and industry leaders are using social media and taking advantage of trends (2) specific social content that soars or misses the mark. Learn from your wins and from your mistakes.

STEP 4: Set Your Budget

Your social media budget spells out how much you plan to spend on social media over a specific timeframe, ranging from a month to a year. It should include any costs for management fees paid to a social media management company. It might also cover an internal employee to manage social media. Your budget should also include the cost of managing paid social media ads, subscriptions to social media scheduling platforms and advertising costs.

STEP 5: Decide Which Networks to Use

Don’t spread yourself too thin. You don’t need to cover the more than twenty social media platforms people are using today. The information you determined in Step 1 will show you exactly which platforms people in your target audience prefer. Refer back to your competitive analysis in Step 3 and evaluate what you learned about opportunities. It makes sense to start by choosing three of the top social media platforms:

Facebook— In terms of brand awareness, Facebook still No. 1, but the majority of users are 25 or older. (source)

Instagram – High-quality visual content performs best on the photo/video sharing app Instagram. Its user-base leans younger than Facebook, with over half of those using it being under 35. (source)

YouTube – YouTube appeals to users from various age groups and is the second most-used platform in the world. It’s great for posting long-form video content to provide a deeper dive into your company’s products or services.

TikTok – Here’s where you share short entertaining videos – they are a powerful tool for direct-to-consumer brands with a younger target audience. TikTok users are 57% female, and 63% of people on the platform are between 10 and 29 years old (source).

X – The micro-blogging platform, formerly known as Twitter, works well for PR and customer support efforts. However, Elon Musk’s takeover of the company created chaos and caused some brands to focus their efforts elsewhere. Twitter skews older with 76% of users over 25 (source) and 63% male (source). Educational content often finds traction on Twitter, due to its attraction for more college-educated users. (source)

LinkedIn – B2B companies get great results from LinkedIn. Members use LinkedIn to advance their careers by growing their networks and connecting with people and brands. Users have the most education of any social media platform, and like Twitter, it skews more male (57%) than female (43%). (source)

Where are your ideal clients spending most of their time?

STEP 6: Craft Your Message

With all that research behind you, you can now have fun finding creative ways to deliver messaging that generates interest in your products and services, and engages your target audiences in conversation. Remember that while social media users are receptive to messaging about products and services, they will tune you out if you bury them in repetitive salesy messaging clearly designed to make them spend money, instead of solving their problems.

You can post a myriad of content types: Polls, questions, quotes, memes, user-generated content, stories, livestreams, infographics, competitions, personal or stock photos, product posts, news/trending posts, or promotion of blog posts. Workplace behind-the-scenes glimpses that celebrate your employees can be particularly engaging and effective because it makes your brand authentic and relatable and allows your team share personal wins. Don’t forget that different social media channels need different creative approaches.

Some things you might consider:

• Specific benefit promises
• Ask a question
• Get attention with interesting stats (think numbers and percentages)
• Make users curious or trigger an emotional response
• Create a sense of urgency
• Use a call-to-action

Need more thought-starters? Click here for more social media content ideas.

STEP 7: Create a Social Media Publishing Calendar

Your social media content calendar lists the dates and times when you will publish content on each channel. It’s the perfect place to plan how you will share everything from images to links and decide when to re-share user-generated content (UGC) to blog posts and videos.

The worst strategy is only posting content whenever you have time and are in the mood to create. You need a schedule! Here are the best times to post/tweet/pin on specific social media channels. Knowing when each social network realizes its highest engagement will help you tailor your approach to your audience. As you plan your whole content calendar, be sure to incorporate recommended best times to post on every network based on your past engagement rates, impressions, or click data.

It’s also important to find a good social media scheduler for your business accounts. The most popular of these scheduling options are Monday, Later, Hootsuite and Buffer. You can also take advantage of the built-in schedulers on LinkedIn, and Meta Business Suite for Facebook and Instagram.

STEP 8: Determine the Right Content Mix

Take time to make sure your content mix and calendar reflect the strategy and goals you’ve made for each social channel. Don’t jump on every meme! Not sure what types of content to post? Try the 80-20 rule: 80% of your posts should inform, educate, or entertain your audience; 20% can directly promote your brand.

If you haven’t heard of the social media content Rule of Thirds, take it to heart now:

• One-third of your content should promote your business, convert readers and generate profit.

• One-third of your content can share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.

• One-third of your content can be driven by personal interactions with your audience

STEP 9: Be Consistent

Consistency is key for both your posting schedule and your content. Having a consistent schedule drives success over time. In addition, make sure your brand’s voice and style shines through in every piece of content you post. When your audience sees a post from your brand, they should immediately know it’s from you.

Consistency and fresh content that’s relevant and interesting to your target audience will help foster your brand’s trustworthiness, credibility, and recognition. Consistency shows you are reliable and helps build loyalty with your followers.

If you’re new at social media marketing, be willing to do some trial and error to figure out what works best for your audience. Try posting at various times to determine when engagement is highest. Play around with different types of content to see what speaks to them most. Once you have substantiated your insights, make a well-conceived schedule and stick to it!

STEP 10: Track Meaningful Metrics

Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics like numbers of followers and likes. They are easy to track, but their real value is hard to prove. Engagement, click-through, and conversion rates are much more meaningful. From measuring cost-per-click (CPC) on Facebook ads, to tracking the number of Instagram story views for a brand awareness campaign, make sure you are looking at the correct metrics for each campaign.
Social media can be overwhelming. Don’t let it throw you! With the right strategy and diligence, even business owners who hate social media become converts. See for yourself how effective and worthwhile it can be for your business’s future success.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know what it takes to create an effective social media strategy, your biggest takeaway should be this: RESIST the urge to execute it all yourself. As a business owner with a full plate, you should definitely delegate responsibility for social media to a knowledgeable team member within your company or bring in an outside expert for upfront advice.

At Wrathbone, we’re a trusted source of social media expertise, ready and willing to free you up to focus on other aspects of your business. Get in touch with us, schedule a call or meeting, and find out how much of a difference our team can make in your social media success.

Avoid These Common Business Social Media Mistakes!

  • Having no social media strategy or goals to use as a guide
  • Not creating content geared towards your target audience
  • Posting inconsistent content with random timing
  • Not tailoring content to platform. You need different approaches on Twitter vs. Instagram vs. Facebook
  • Not setting a social media budget
  • Trying to DIY–social media requires specialized skills and knowledge